How to Get Retirement Income You Can Count On – for Life

Sponsored Content from Athene

A joint Kiplinger-Athene poll reveals a new way of defining retirement security

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As you approach retirement, the possibilities for what comes next can be exhilarating to think about. Maybe you’ll travel to far-flung places for a month or more at a time. Or, perhaps you’ll turn a hobby you’re passionate about into a part-time gig.

Like a lot of people planning for this new life stage, you may also be thinking about preparing your finances. Athene’s new national public opinion poll – developed in partnership with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine – found that the top two economic concerns for most pre-retirees are the prospect of a recession and the fiscal health of Social Security. In fact, 81% worry that future Social Security benefits will be cut by Congress as it tries to shore up the program.

What’s more, 6 out of 10 of these workers also say they worry about running out of money later in life. A bright spot? About just as many say they’d fret less about running short if more of their retirement income was guaranteed.

How Guaranteed Income Affects Well-Being in Retirement

The poll also found that retirees with at least some income from an annuity express a high degree of confidence about their prospects for living comfortably throughout retirement. And they do so at a significantly higher rate than their peers without that safety net.

Of course, the retirement landscape has changed from a generation ago. Though traditional pensions that provide lifetime income remain common in the public sector, that’s not the case in the private sector where only 15% of workers have access to one, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Plus, just under two-thirds of private sector workers are offered 401(k)-style plans, which mostly leave it up to employees to decide how much to save and where to invest their money.

Even without a traditional pension, however, today’s retirees and pre-retirees – with help from a financial professional – can use an annuity to create a similar guaranteed lifetime income stream. And if you have enough guaranteed income to cover your basic living expenses, this can help you shift your focus to what brings you joy in retirement rather than the impact of market swings on your portfolio.

"Retirement can, and should be, a time when people enjoy the rewards of a long career and feel confident they'll be able to enjoy the plans they've made," says Grant Kvalheim, President of Athene and Chief Executive Officer and President of Athene USA. "An annuity can help provide the guaranteed income that allows them to do that."

Building Your Own Reliable Income Stream

Begin by looking at what you spend each year now on essential living expenses, and then adjust the figures for how that may change in retirement. Here’s a worksheet you can use.

For example, you’ll no longer be contributing to a 401(k) or similar plan once retired, and your mortgage might be paid off by then. You’ll still have taxes, although they could be lower. Medicare may cover most of your medical expenses, but it doesn’t cover everything, so you’ll still need to budget for health care costs and premiums.

Once you estimate your yearly retirement living expenses, subtract any annual sources of guaranteed income. The worksheet also walks you through this process.

Most retirees are eligible for Social Security, which guarantees a monthly income that’s adjusted annually for inflation. You can start retirement benefits as early as age 62, but if you delay claiming, your benefit will continue to grow until age 70. To calculate your expected benefit amount, you need to determine what age you plan to start receiving benefits, what your highest earning years were, and the impact that income taxes and inflation adjustments will have. The Social Security Administration also mails benefit estimates to workers annually once they turn 60, or you can find out your projected benefit by signing up for an online account at

Do your estimated yearly living expenses exceed your guaranteed annual income?

If so, savings can help fill the gap. You can also use the guaranteed income from an annuity toward your essentials. An annuity helps protect you from outliving your money―even if you live to 100 or beyond.

Diving deeper into annuity options

While all annuities are designed to provide income, there are different kinds to align with your retirement goals and how much risk you’re comfortable taking. Here are some common options:

Immediate Annuity. Carrying the lowest risk, immediate annuities convert your premium payment to a guaranteed income stream for life, or for a specific period.

Fixed Annuity. Fixed annuities offer a fixed interest rate that’s guaranteed for a certain time period. The guarantee may appeal to you if you’re willing to sacrifice the potential for higher returns when the markets rise.

Fixed Indexed Annuity. In the middle of the spectrum, fixed indexed annuities have become increasingly popular with people who have a moderate appetite for risk. You can earn interest credits based in part on the upward movement of a stock market index while enjoying protection of a zero percent floor. If the net change in the index over a given crediting period is negative, you would earn zero interest credits for that period, but never less than zero.

Registered Index-Linked Annuity. These products are designed for people with a higher risk tolerance. Registered Index-Linked Annuities (commonly referred to as RILAs or buffered annuities) offer the potential for index credits tied to index performance while providing a measure of protection from market loss.

Variable Annuity. This type carries the highest level of risk because your money is invested directly in the market. Variable annuities offer the highest growth potential of any of the products on the annuity spectrum, but they also leave you fully exposed to market loss.

  • What’s your tolerance for risk? Take this short quiz to help you find your comfort level.

Gaining Peace of Mind During Volatile Times

Our poll also revealed another feature of annuities that’s good for your portfolio and retirement security.

Retirees need some exposure to stocks in their investment portfolio to keep up with inflation. But often when a bear market hits, many bail out of stocks to limit their losses. Paper losses then become real losses. These people can then end up sitting on the sidelines, missing out on the key early days and weeks of a market rebound. According to the poll, however, more than one-quarter of pre-retirees say that if they had reliable income to cover their essentials, they would be more comfortable investing in stocks.

Retirement can be an exciting time as you consider your new possibilities. And, as our poll found, having guaranteed income sources, such as an annuity, can allow you to focus more on those new opportunities and less on financial worries, such as running out of money later in life.

Working with your financial professional, you can find out if an annuity that fits your needs so you can retire your way.

  • Not sure what path your next act will take? Take the “What’s Your More?” quiz to discover your retirement personality and where it may lead you.



Guarantees provided by annuities are subject to the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Indexed annuities are not stock market investments and do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. Market indices may not include dividends paid on the underlying stocks, and therefore may not reflect the total return of the underlying stocks; neither an Index nor any market-indexed annuity is comparable to a direct investment in the equity markets. The term “financial professional” is not intended to imply engagement in an advisory business with compensation unrelated to sales. Financial professionals will be paid a commission on the sale of an annuity.




This material is a general description intended for general public use. Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, and issuing annuities in 49 states (excluding NY) and in D.C., and Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), headquartered in Pearl River, New York, and issuing annuities in New York, are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any individual or in any individual situation, and therefore nothing in this should be read as investment advice. Please reach out to your financial professional if you have any questions about Athene products or their features.


Annuities contain features, exclusions and limitations that vary by state. For a full explanation of an annuity, please refer to the Certificate of Disclosure or Prospectus (as applicable) and contact your Financial Professional or the company for costs and complete details.

This content was provided by Athene. Kiplinger is not affiliated with and does not endorse the company or products mentioned above.